Southern Methodist University celebrated Veterans Day and honored all of the students who left school to fight in World War I with a luncheon and a ceremony in the Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom on Nov. 12.
Rita Kirk, the director of the Maguire Ethics Center, noted the importance of this particular Veterans Day, as it marks 100 years since the end of the war.
“This year’s theme was really to celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I,” Kirk said. “We celebrate the hope that the struggles on the battlefield will lead to a better, more peaceful, productive life for us all.”
We celebrate the hope that the struggles on the battlefield will lead to a better, more peaceful, productive life for us all.
The event, which was put on in partnership with the Maguire Center and the SMU Mothers’ and Dads’ Clubs, aimed to be both a celebration of life and a way to honor the history of veterans within the SMU community.
Another speaker, SMU President R. Gerald Turner, noted the historical impact World War I had on SMU.
“When the first class came to SMU in 1915, the war had already started in Europe,” Turner said. “A number of students…signed up to serve their country in 1917.”
He also acknowledged and thanked the 11 SMU students who never returned to school, losing their lives in the fight to protect the American ideals of freedom and democracy.
Many luncheon attendees were family members of veterans, or even veterans themselves, including several current SMU faculty members and students.
“This is a way of us acknowledging you, and you finding the other veterans who live [and] work on this campus,” Kirk said in a special message to the veterans in the room.
Attendees who had served were met with a round of applause when they were asked to stand. Many of them also applauded their fellow veterans.
The spirit of the celebration was light, as attendees mingled and thanked the veterans in attendance while the Mustang Brass Quintet played jazz tunes in the background.
Adding to the celebratory mood of the event was the the announcement of a new study by U.S News and World Report, which named SMU the 31st best college in the nation and second best in Texas for veterans.
President Turner then announced his plans to further support veterans at SMU, noting that he plans to endow two new scholarships for veteran students. This led to cheers from the audience.
In a more earnest segment of his speech, President Turner said he admires the values and principles taught to veterans, such as perseverance, discipline and dedication, and that he wishes to foster those same values in SMU students.
“SMU, and our country, needs those values today possibly more than ever,” Turner said.
SMU, and our country, needs those values today possibly more than ever.
Student Margot Koch, whose grandfather was a general in the military during the Korean War, agrees those values instilled in veterans can help students like herself to succeed both at SMU and in the years beyond.
“I think they have helped me be, like, tough,” Koch said. “My [grandfather] taught me self-discipline, which has really helped me [at SMU].”
President Turner noted that the values he wishes to promote among students are the same ones that were fought for 100 years ago during World War I.
“Those values always endure,” Turner said.